How to Avoid Going Red When You Speak

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Don’t worry. If you do go red it will only last a very very short time and you’ll recover super-fast.  

It’s funny, apart from ‘what do I do with my hands?’ 

The questions
“How do I avoid going red?”
“What do I do about my rash?”

Are the next most common questions I get asked about speaking, pitching and doing a work presentation.

The going red phenomenon seems to be spreading and as they say in the USA, it’s one of the ‘non- verbal leakage’ issues!

Yes, going red is one of the tell-tale signs that you are nervous before you’ve even spoken.

One of my clients at Deloitte used to wear a scarf every day, all year round. 

When I met her she had a really lovely blue scarf, in fact she told me she had half a wardrobe full of fashionable scarfs because she was worried on a daily basis, in meetings, in presentations, with clients, and at networking events that she “might go red, or break out in a rash at any moment”.

Wow, that must be stressful living in fear every day!

In a meeting, the first thing she would feel was a little flushed (who doesn’t) then she’d feel the red-rosy heat spread from her cleavage (décolletage) and slowly work its way up to her neck. It would reach her chin and then often, arrhhhh, her face!  

She told me it was getting worse, hence the scarf strategy.

I must admit, she did wear her scarf pretty high up.

She was really embarrassed about this ‘rash’ and she felt terrible.  

I told her not to worry because many more of my clients had come out with their ‘Rash stories’.

One poor woman was on camera making video clips for a top

law firm and when we watched the footage back she looked like she was wearing a camouflage body suit.  

She was wearing a sleeveless dress and the strange shaped patches were her skin.  Her nervousness on camera had brought her out in a full body rash and no make-up, powder or foundation would cover that up.

My Top 3‘how to avoid going red’ Tips:

They workfor my clients and they can work for you.

Just like when your mind goes blank, your body reacts to fear, which leads to anxiety, which leads to your heart rate going up, which creates cortisol, (the stress hormone) which leads to side effects!

Tip 1 – the 1-minute strategy!

Smell the Roses Breathing! Slow breathing - 10 beats blowing out the candle and 8 beats smelling the roses is an instant winner, it immediately reduces your heart rate.  

It literally takes 45 seconds to get rid of cortisol – that’s under a minute!

This is the most affective option for a quick fix!  It worked a treat for my scarf wearing client.

Tip 2 - Let it go! Don’t fight it.

Let your body go red, have a rash, feel the tingly rush of blood to your face. 

Don’t fight it and say to yourself “It’s ok, here comes the rash!”

I have tried this and it WORKS – I have let myself go red, get sweaty, go blank and guess what? It passes.  It doesn’t take long to pass either when you don’t fight it.

And don’t say anything about it either!

Did I tell you I am a human experiment and I’ve tried every single tip myself?

(This really works best if you also do tips 1 & 3)

Tip 3 – Practice, practice, practice.

The more you speak the more you get used to it and the more your body won’t react.  

Do NOT avoid public speaking at all costs, do it MORE. Start small and speak to groups of 3 then 4 then 5 and so on.  It’s the long-term anti-blushing formula.

Remember the golden rule? The audience doesn’t care about you! The audience only cares about what’s in it for them.

They don’t care that much if you go red, they might even find it endearing. (Or they think you’re having a hot flash) If you don’t make it into a big deal, they won’t.

This takes the pressure off you.  Concentrate on them rather then you and you’re half way there.


Good luck and keep going!


Bonus - Here’s my how to avoid going red video….enjoy!




patrick Volavka